Thursday, January 24, 2013

Idaho, Home Sweet Home

Recently a kind  blog reader asked that I write about Idaho and my perspective of it.    And so this blog is dedicated to Karla who said even though she lives in New York City, that when she reads my blog, somehow she feels a "connection" to Idaho and the land. If that isn't the best compliment ever, I don't know what is.  Blogging has helped me slow down and focus on the amazing kinds of things that are within reach of my fingertips ....everyday. As I began this special blog, I realized  there is so much to show, and so I will do a blog on Idaho each month in hopes of capturing its true essence.  But for now this will be an overview.  Writing not only helps me, but hopefully helps foster a picture in others of what farm-life and Idaho looks like, feels like and smells like. And when I can't find words to describe it,then I use photographs and with that..... Idaho as seen through this farmerette's eyes:

Blue sky, white clouds and green fields
In 1969 I came to Idaho from Montana and it March.  The day we left Montana, there was still several feet of snow and ice, so when we reached Moscow, Idaho 7 hours later, I remember it was a beautiful sunny day complete with blue sky and white puffy clouds, and even though I was a young girl, I fell in love with the gentle rolling hills that had a glimmer of green.  I didn't know what the green fields were, but I knew I had arrived in a place that I would forever call home.

Karla went on to ask if would I share what was my favorite and not-so-favorite things about Idaho, from its landscape to its people.  So sitting in my cozy chair by my fireplace in the deep chill of winter, I will attempt to paint with words what I live each day and every day.  Because for me, it is where my rainbow ends and where all the riches I seek in life are family, friends, faith and life-style.

Photo taken one evening in 2012 on "the Palouse"
The basic facts about Idaho is that Northern Idaho is vastly different from Southern Idaho and halfway down the State the scenery changes from farm fields to sage brush and more desert looking landscape. We also have a mountain range that is breathtakingly beautiful and that probably explains why some of the movie stars have a home around the Sun Valley area.  I have had the good fortune to raft down the 3 branches of the Salmon river, which is a world class adventure. We are a rural state and one that is mostly Agriculture based.  During certain times of the year, I can guarantee that you will come across a combine or a tractor on the highway.....

Traveling to get to get it's destination point during harvest
Up North where I live also called "the Palouse", the farms rely on Nature to provide the timely rains for crops and the kinds of crops raised are the cereal grains (wheat, barley, oats) and legumes (garbanzos, lentils or peas). In the Southern part of the State, mainly potatoes and sugar beets are raised and those are irrigated crops.  Idaho has seen an increase in dairies too.

Around here, we don't really have a rush hour, more like having to sit occasionally through a stop light during a busy time is more like it.  I like to think we have a slower pace of life and a better work/life balance and for the most part, I find my fellow Idahoans friendly, helpful and kind.  But as in the past two blogs that I have written about, life in a rural area is not perfect in any manner. We have the same kinds of concerns/problems that others throughout the USA have, but on a much smaller scale.

Today as I write this, it is January 19th and it was a spectacular day with a bright blue sky, white snowy fields that sport the occasional tracks of wildlife and the cold temperature has left the snow with a rough texture that sparkles in the sun.   A sunny day in winter is a gift as most days are gray and sometimes it is hard to distinguish where the sky ends and the land begins. The air has a crisp smell though, but not much in the way of a scent, just clean and cold.  In the country, winter is quiet. 

Springtime is sort of elusive and regardless of what the calendar says, I know Spring has officially  arrived when I catch the first heavenly scent of the earth.  Usually it is mid March - late April, and as the days grow longer, the feel of the sun is stronger- it is when the  farmers start getting the ground ready for planting.   When I breath in the smell of freshly tilled dirt- there is no other smell like it on earth and one that I have always loved.

Seeding Spring Wheat
Summertime will find the non-farmers camping, fishing or playing in the many rivers or lakes.  Many Idahoans are out-doors enthusiasts who like their toys (campers, 4 wheelers, bicycles, motorcycles and boats).  Farmer's however,  don't get to play as much because this is our busy time, but we will squeeze in a fun week-end if we can.  Humidity is not an issue here and we can always count on nice warm weather right about the 4th of July, but it seems like mid-August the nights will cool down and I always keep a sweater handy.

Mid-summer to early Fall on the Palouse is marked by harvest  and pre-harvest has a smell to the air .  I guess it is when Mother Nature says to the farmer, your crops are done and ready to be harvested!

I do love most aspects about Idaho, but there are a few things that are not so great
  • Our  main highway that runs through the state is still mostly a 2 lane road.  (I remember overhearing a truck driver talking to his dispatch and swearing that he was sure the back of his trailer was going to touch the front of his truck on some of our nasty curvy roads.)
  • I do not like the small  group of white supremacists who sometimes spew their ugly propaganda, and give the rest of Idaho a black eye, as the majority of the population find their actions reprehensible and in no way do we condone what they think or do
  • I do not like Indian casinos that are sprinkled throughout Idaho.  I feel any kind of gambling industry is unhealthy and that does more harm to our state than good.
As I like to end on a positive note, the good of our state far outweighs the negative and I have put together a short snap shot of Idaho and some of it's people.  I hope you enjoy it.  This doesn't even cover the other parts of Idaho, so I will try throughout the year to capture more of the essence of Idaho. (click here if unable to view the video)

I again, extend my invitation to tell me what you want to see on the blog and I'll do my best to make it happen, so drop me an email or leave a comment.  All my best, Gayle.

P.S.  Thank you to all who left those wonderful and heartfelt comments on my blog or who emailed me directly.  The love and hugs felt through those messages were felt and were so appreciated by me and my family. =)